Raw speed puts Johnson on top
KALE Johnson’s raw speed and attacking flair have rocketed him into the Australian Indigenous Open touch team.
The 20-year-old got the phone call to join the side last week, after impressing in National Touch League stints at Coffs Harbour this year.
He is also a member of the Central Queensland (CQ) Indigenous Open side, the CQ mixed team and a shadow for the open CQ team.
Johnson does not know any of his green and gold team mates, but is expecting to be the young pup of the side for the January tournament in New Zealand.
“I’ll be one of the younger ones. The thought of making this team never really crossed my mind, but Brad Newton (Bundaberg Touch president and chairman of Central Queensland touch) suggested I have a think about it and I must have been playing well enough to make the cut,” Johnson said.
“It’s amazing to think it is an Australian side — the best indigenous players in the whole country.
“I couldn’t have done it without the help of Brad Newton and also the Indigenous Wellbeing Centre.”
The livewire athlete was a member of the 2006 under-20 Australian team, but this will be his first crack at open international competition.
“It’s a big honour and I hope I can do everyone proud,” he said.
His club side, Wanderers, were unable to reach the final in the Tuesday night local competition, but it wasn’t through lack of trying.
“I like to put on a big step and throw the long passes,” he said.
“But it’s a good quality standard and there are some quick guys in the competition.”
The higher level of competition may lead to Johnson having to curb his flair, but the happy-go-lucky star will still try and make his mark on the game.
Newton said Johnson was but one of a crop of talented touch players his age in Bundaberg.
“Kale is one of those group that has excelled for a few years now,” he said.
Johnson’s under-18 Bundaberg team won the Interstate Cup in 2006, something only the very best sides can accomplish.
“He’s very, very quick and having a wealth of talent around him only helps him get better,” Newton said.
Johnson will bank on raw skill with a healthy diet of cycling to have him fit for the tournament in the new year.